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Lessons from My First Professional Job

I am about to unashamedly spill so much tea. None of it is coming from a bitter place. I just want to remember what I learned in an environment that was supposed to be professional (but considering how much poop talking there was about other people, including clients, I don’t know if it could be described as professional).

These are the lessons I learned during my time at the job I moved to North Carolina for (yes, the same one I was super hype about towards the end of last year… if I could just go back and guide young Jamilah):

#1: I have to limit being an empath. Earlier in the year, I was threatened to be fired because I was a negative person. Apparently I was bringing moral down. After this conversation and a couple of very awkward months where I took a step back and observed, I realized I was simply adapting and feeding into the existing environment created by my boss. She swears up and down she’s not mean, and to some extent she’s not, but she’s a decently negative person. A day doesn’t go by where she’s not verbally complaining or sighing or rolling her eyes about something. I thought that was the normal behavior of the office, so I adapted; I let the negative self-talk side of Jamilah out. As my time came to a close with this job, I figured out I simply worked for a woman who couldn’t be satisfied, couldn’t be happy, especially if you don’t think like her.

#2: Apparently it’s wrong to call your boss out for consistently gaslighting you, the same way it’s wrong to point out who was responsible for a task when you’re the one wrongfully being reprimanded because you had absolutely nothing to do with the situation. I refuse to be gaslit.

#3: “Have an obsession with Instagram” should’ve been in my job description. I honestly would not have applied for the job if that were the case. The pressure of consistently posting on Instagram from this job has made me want to use the platform a lot less. I barely post on my personal, private account, and I am now at a point where I have to talk myself into posting on @allsimplyjay.

#4: Not everyone checks the calendar, so verbal reminders are necessary. Apparently your boss can be the main one to not pay attention to the calendar she established, the same way she doesn’t pay attention to you unless you do something wrong; she’ll ask other people to go back and do something you completed in advance because it’s in your job description.

#5: Not everyone can relate to money struggles and empathize with how poorly they’re paying you. Not everyone is compassionate and understanding. I’m sure you can guess who I mean by “everyone.”

#6: I finally experienced that gutwrenching feeling of everyone else getting invited and praised except you. The more it happens, the more it stings.

The Red Flags of Bad Bosses

Consider this a part two of the lessons I’ve learned over the course of seven months. This list accumulated as the ridiculousness accumulated, and the only way I could cope with what was happening around me was by writing a list.

The past couple of years have been nothing but bad leadership at barely decent paying jobs. It’s one thing to have sucky pay, but to also have a sucky employer? A recipe for disaster. During my time under sucky leadership, I’ve learned the instant red flags of a bad boss and the kind of leader I absolutely don’t want to be.

#1: Asks the new employee to write a list of things they need to be trained on… How is the new employee supposed to know if they’re new?? (To this day, this still baffles me)

#2: Lack of accountability (It couldn’t possibly be their fault or poor judgment, she says sarcastically)

#3: As previously mentioned, consistent gaslighting (very similar to the last point, absolutely no accountability, especially when they consistently change the direction/task provided)

#4: Does not listen nor pay attention (I can’t tell you how many times an employee would say they were going to do something in a meeting, and later in the meeting, the employer would ask to go back to tell the employee to do what they already said they were going to do)

#5: Choosing the other employees in the office to go to a networking event and asking you to go to a separate event by yourself at a time that everyone (except apparently the employer) knows when you are not available

#6: Creates a separate group chat with the team to discuss the behavior of a singular employee

#7: Gives no physical separation notice when letting the employee go, which is a requirement by law

#8: Pays almost five thousand less than what was contracted

At the end of the day, the biggest thing I’ve learned is being good at a particular skill does not equate to being a good boss. People who do not possess leadership qualities take the title of “boss” or “founder” or “CEO” and run with it in the wrong direction.

After experiencing such poor leadership, the idea of working for myself and starting my own company to treat people with respect is looking like the best path for my life.

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